Muslims, Ground Zero, Fear and Fairness

One of those rights is the right to practice their religion, unhindered by the state, unassailed by the general public. When Barack Obama spoke out in support of the right of these peaceful Muslims to build on land they had purchased, it was a rare but welcome courageous moment in his administration.

They do have every right -- and it would be wrong of us to oppose it simply because they are Muslim.

And while Americans in general seem to oppose the building, Ted Olson, Solicitor General in the George W. Bush administration, agrees with Obama. Although he lost his wife in the 9/11 attacks and has more reason to be bitter or frightened than any of us, what he said was this: "We don't want to turn an act of hate against us by extremists into an act of intolerance for people of religious faith."

We are better than that. As Americans. As Christians. Without love and tolerance, we cannot live together.

Luke Mitchell wrote in the Atlantic back in 2004 that "if the American people are terrified the terrorists have won."

The Islamic fundamentalists who destroyed the Twin Towers wanted to scare us, to change us, to make us more like them.

And, from the way we are treating the gentlest, most mystical of their fellow believers, it seems clear to me that they accomplished what they set out to do.

Shame on us.


Greg Garrett is the author of works of fiction, criticism, and theology, including the forthcoming The Other Jesus from Westminster John Knox Press. He is Professor of English at Baylor University, and a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church. He blogs at The Other Jesus.

Read Greg Garrett's articles "Hope Yet for Mainline Denominations" and "How Churches Break" as part of the Future of Mainline Protestantism series at Patheos.

8/23/2010 4:00:00 AM
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